It was my midwife who first introduced me to a version of these cookies five years ago. It was just before Christmas, and being eight months pregnant, I told her that I didn’t feel up for baking anything — my mind and my time were focused on the upcoming arrival of our baby.
She told me about these cookies, and how simple and tasty they were. The original cookies consist of only dates, pecans, and a pinch of salt! Although I wasn’t eating gluten free at the time, their simplicity appealed to me, and I gave them a try. Even though they have no added sugar, they are so delicious that I have made these every year since.
Over the years, I have played around with the ratios of nuts to dates, the amount of salt, and with the baking time and temperature, to find the perfect taste and texture. In this recipe, the sugar in the dates caramelizes with the nut bits, giving them a chewy, praline like crunch.
This year, I added orange zest to the cookies and dipped them in chocolate, and a they have gone from a simple treat to a decadent dessert — so good I had to share them with you! These cookies are easy to make, and are a lovely addition to any cookie platter, gluten free or not, this Christmas season.
Orange Date Pecan Cookies
Prep. time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 15 minutes
Makes: 18-20 small cookies
1 cup pitted dates
1 cup raw pecans, plus 18-20 pecan halves
zest of one small orange
juice of orange, optional
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup DF/ vegan chocolate chips, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 35oF, or 180C degrees.
2. Pit the dates (by hand works best), or if they are pitted, check each one just to be sure no pits were missed.
3. Combine dates, pecans, orange zest, and salt in the bowl of the food processor. Blend for about one minute to combine.
4. If the mixture stays granulated and doesn’t come together, add a tablespoon of orange juice, and continue to blend for 30 seconds longer; if the mixture still doesn’t come together, add the juice tablespoon by tablespoon, until the mixture forms a dough like consistency, and pulls away from the edges of the bowl.
5. Using a small (1 inch/ 2.5 cm) ice cream scoop, scoop balls of dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
6. Press a pecan half onto the top of each cookie.
7. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cookies become matte in appearance, and dry to the touch.
8. If dipping the cookies in chocolate, melt the chocolate chips, dip the bottom half of the cookies in chocolate, and set on a parchment lined cookie sheet to dry. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve. For an extra kick of flavor, try sprinkling the chocolate with a pinch of sea salt before it hardens!
This post has also linked up to Erin’s Christmas Cookie Week post over at The Speckled Palate.